Monday, January 2, 2017

2017 - A Clean Slate


Although I don't make New Years resolutions and January 1 is just another day I always feel like the new year is full of possibilities and like a blank chalkboard ready to be filled with adventures.  We had a lovely but tiring Christmas and I am ready to get back to our regular life groove.  Today is our last day of sleeping in and tomorrow appointments start up again with clients.

I spent the 31st taking down Christmas and cleaning our house then spent yesterday helping Mom take her Christmas down and cleaning her house.  She is a pack rat.  Her vice is paper...newspapers and magazines.  I hauled away approximately 1000 magazines after years of asking her to downsize them/get rid of them.  She always feels there is one article there she wants to keep and keeps them in stacked piles in every room in the house.  She does use the internet more now so I actually believe that is why she let me take them away, they were overtaking her life.  Unfortunately all the recycle centers were closed yesterday and today so they are in the back of the truck until I get rid of them properly.  I think she feels better and I certainly feel better.

Our December grocery tally came in at $625.77 which is on budget as we were under in November.  Annual grocery spend was $6564.01 on a budget of $6600.  I thought I was smack on but apparently I did not count in one month where I was a bit under so a nice error and under the yearly budget.  That includes all food, over the counter meds, toiletries and cleaners.  It does not include anything to do with the dog as I have a separate category for Buddy in our budget.  Our 2017 grocery budget is being lowered to $525 per month or $6300 for the year as other costs such as our healthcare have gone up from $136 a month for two adults to $150 a month.  I have become lazy and need to get back to my frugal grocery ways and this lowered grocery budget should achieve that.

In 2016 I kept on grocery budget by a variety of measures:  a small amount of coupons - in Canada we rarely get decent coupons for non-convenience items so it was mostly on toiletries that I used coupons.  I also used Checkout 51 savings app, PC points and Shoppers Drug Mart Points which helped me get through October, November and December without breaking the bank.  Mom and I have a date every $1.49 day at our local Quality foods which happens once a month and I have saved a lot of money this year on that day as many items I regularly buy are at rock bottom prices.  In September 2015 I bought 40 lbs of jasmine rice for $26.88.  I found the glass storage jars at the thrift store to store it and I still have enough to get me through most of 2017.  We eat rice approximately once every 10 days or so - a very cheap staple.  I also buy large quantities of flour and just replenished it in December after using the last bag for a year (if stored properly this isn't a problem).  We also used our Costco membership for frozen chicken breasts and porkchops.  The porkchops are not the cheapest in my town but are the highest quality so in the end work out to be the  best deal as include no fat and no bones and I repackage the family pack when I get home into meal size packs.  I scour the advertisements for deals every week and stock up on loss leaders.

I have never meal planned, actually hate the idea of it but I have come up with a solution that still allows us freedom of choice.  A 2 day meal plan.  Yesterday I made tacos, cooked twice as much meat as I needed and the leftover meat/extra meat is going into chili today in the slow cooker.  I like to leave the house at least every other day since we work from home (for sanity) so that way if I need an ingredient or run out of something I only have to wait 2 days.  Stores are so close to me that I can walk to/very short drive if necessary.

Do you have any tricks for keeping your grocery budget down?  Please share if so.  Happy New Years everyone!

18 comments:

  1. Clean up day is today for me-although as it is officially a holiday I'm tempted to do nothing! Fingers crossed my garden will come through for me regarding food savings-a bust for early season produce last year. Does your Mom use Pinterest? Sounds like she would enjoy it.

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  2. I had decided to try and hover around the $75 a week budget for 2017, excluding a couple of big events we are hosting this year which will have a budget all their own. I have said before keeping TheHub from his recreational stop at Publix after work is key to maintaining my budget. Today is the 2nd and he stopped this afternoon and came home with 20 bucks worth of snack food. 1/3 of the week gone in one day!

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    1. OMG my hubby is the same way and I cringe every time I say I am going to the store and he wants to come or he says he will pick up items we need. $11.99 Costco pickled eggs come to mind (I try and keep him away from Costco, the most expensive and dangerous one)

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  3. I don't meal plan either, it takes the joy and spontaneity out of food. I buy whatever fruit & veg is in season and cheap on the market and make up dishes with whatever I've bought. We've always got tinned beans (kidney, butter, borlotti), chopped tomatoes, basmati rice, wholemeal pasta and plain flour in the cupboards and thousands of spices. xxx

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    1. That's how I shop too - plus always have a fully stocked cupboard of tins as well. My spice cupboard runneth over :)

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  4. I still need to take care of Christmas, soon. We get a lot of magazines. We save them up and take them with us back to Bellingham. The library there has a rack where you can drop your copies and others can take them for free. We are now using the Texture application to get magazines on our iPads so lots of our print subscriptions are going to lapse. They have a wide selection (even Canadian magazines). The cost is $9.99 a month for monthly magazines and $14.99 a month to also include the weekly magazines. You can share it with five devices which works out well for us and our friend in Bellingham. You can enlarge the size for easier reading and save articles for future reference. You can also access back issues for the same price. - Margy

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    1. My Mom is technically challenged and still loves reading old fashioned books and magazines so perhaps a few years off but if she gets more interested I will suggest that to her. She does actually seem to be using Facebook since I helped her get on in the summer.

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  5. I sort of plan-more a list of options unless aai'm trying to stretch what's in the house, then follow a specifc plan. I agree it is not very spontaneous, so if I or a family member is just not feeling it, I am fine with switching things up, if it doesn;t require another trip. My goal is $350 a month for 2017, special occassions excluded.

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    1. I am afraid if I excluded special occasions my budget would go awry - I like the idea of planning in higher amounts in certain months like December though

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  6. I meal plan, but also have about 5-7 or so easy meals on hand at any given time. That way, if the meal plan falls through, or doesn't appeal, there are other options.

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    1. Thats a good idea, I try and have easy (less than 10 minutes) meals at the ready just in case but am not always successful. I did make the chili and after hubby has 2nds for lunch will freeze the rest for supper another evening. That way 1 package of ground beef made 7, possibly 8 meals.

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  7. Budget? Budget??? I'm not familiar with that word! As for Christmas decorations, I'm tempted to put everything away, although here in Spain Christmas continues to be celebrated through Three Kings Day, when the Magi deliver gifts to the children (as opposed to Santa Claus).

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    1. When in Spain...do as the Spanish do? Don't worry about the budget, you seem to be doing fine :)

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  8. The Bulk Barn is my secret budget helper :) And I only go about once every two months but when I go I stock up on all the staples including fresh tea leaves, fair trade coffee, quinoa, rice, oats, flour, raisins, kidney beans, peanut butter, split peas, lentils etc etc etc.
    Yesterday I made my first ever batch of butter chicken with a package of 7 boneless, skinless chicken breasts that were on sale. We ate some for dinner and have enough for at least 2 more meals. If for some reason we don't get it all eaten in the next few days I'll put it in the freezer for a quick meal some night that we need it. I figure the cost per meal at about $1.25. I always cook in bulk so it makes sense to go to Bulk Barn haha! My food budget is $70.00 per week/$280 per month for 2 adults. That covers toiletries and paper products but not prescriptions or cat supplies. Other than the Bulk Barn I shop mostly at No Frills though I use an app called Flipp which will show me where the cheapest place to buy something is. So if I need a more costly item, like olive oil, I can do a search and find that is on sale at Food Basics or wherever. The app really saves me money. It searches all the local flyers so I don't have to.

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    1. I just downloaded the app and it appears I will be saving money with this! So much easier to match up deals or see whats on my to buy list at low prices - thanks for the flipp tip! I am a little put off by Bulk barn as only went there once and a little kid was running his hands through the bin without Mom or anyone else stopping him :)

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  9. Loving reading your blog...

    A few things I do:
    *ALWAYS check the discount bins, even if you've just stopped in for milk
    *Buy in bulk, if possible -- especially during harvest (example: buy 50 pounds of potatoes when they're on sale in the fall, and keep them in a cool place all winter)
    *Make your own main dishes, appetizers and soups -- double and freeze some for later
    *Extend your milk by buying whole milk (same price as skim and 2% here in Colorado). Adding up to 3-4 cups of water doesn't change taste much, makes it less calories -- and my family prefers it to skim.
    *Keep mixes you like...I prefer Krusteaz pancakes. I buy it on sale, and it makes up fast -- keeping us from spending money going out to breakfast. (And waiting for the food!) Maybe breakfast for supper now and then?
    *Always keep something on your emergency shelf that you can heat up quickly -- canned soups or stews, etc. (And these can be served over rice to stretch them.) Saves you from HAVING to go out, and is a good go-to if the power goes out.

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    1. We buy skim milk, I will try that! We do have a lot of soups/stews in the can but as we work from home that is usually a lunch staple when there are no leftovers. Our emergency go tos are grilled cheese sandwiches or naked spaghetti soup (chicken broth heated, make spaghetti separately with 1 cut up chicken breast then spook broth and chicken over spaghetti, great way to use up extra spaghetti too)

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